The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 16, 2011

   Sixty years ago in 1951 Wes Kingsley was the Wednesday night Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Tourjee was the Claiming Car winner. On Saturday night, Dave Humphrey took the Modified main while Tourjee made it two in a row in the Claimers.

   Fifty five years ago Melvin "Red" Foote was the 25 lap Modified winner on Wednesday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. The Saturday night action at the shoreline oval was rained out.

   Fifty years ago in 1961, Bob Hall was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Red Foote took the win at Norwood on Saturday night with Jack Malone, second. Ted Stack, a truck driver for New London Sand and Gravel, won a 50 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ed Moody made it two in a row in the Bombers.

   Forty five years ago in 1966, the Fonda and Utica-Rome Speedways closed out their racing seasons. At Fonda, Pete Corey took the win over Jeep Herbert and Lou Lazzaro. At Utica-Rome Kenny Shoemaker took the win over Lazzaro, Jerry Cook, Sonny Seamon and Wimble. Rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

   Forty years ago in 1971, Islip, Stafford and Oswego were still running as the season was winding down. Jim Shampine won the Oswego 200 for Modifieds. At Islip, Jim Hendrickson, in the Tony Ferrente x3, ruled the roost. Cliff Tyler finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Gary Winters. At Stafford on Sunday afternoon, Bugsy Stevens in the Koszela Woodchopper took the win over Fred DeSarro, Denis Giroux and Ray Miller. Howie Brown won the NESMRA Supermodified feature at Thompson over Paul Richardson and Eddie West. Dave Humphrey beat out Len Thrall and Russ Klar to win the Midget feature. Donny Bunnell took the win at Waterford over Glynn Shafer, Bob Tetreault, Lou Toro and Mark Geer.

   Thirty five years ago in 1976, Charlie Jarzombek recorded his tenth victory of the season at Riverhead. Fred Sipala finished second with Wayne Anderson, third. The Thompson 300 was a non-sanctioned small block Modified event. Geoff Bodine in a Dick Armstrong team car took the win over Ed Flemke, Bugsy Stevens, Ray Hendrick, Don LaJoie, SJ Evonsion, Pete Fiandaca and George Moose Hewitt.

   Thirty years ago in 1981, just about everyone was at the Pocono Raceway for the Annual Race of Champions. Ninety-eight Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the 51 starting spots. Among those who did not qualify was Tom Baldwin who set an altitude record when he rode over Fred Harbach's wheel and vaulted out of the track. Geoff Bodine started on the pole with Richie Evans on the outside. A classic battle was anticipated between the two but it came to an end on lap two when the rear end in the Evans mount broke. The 250-lap contest ended up being a survival of the fittest affair. George Kent took the lead on lap 179 and went on to take the win. Jamie Tomaino passed Tony Hirschman on the final lap to finish second. Jerry Cook finished fourth. It was also on this weekend that the last ever race would be run at the Danbury Fairgrounds as the property had been sold and the speedway would give way to a shopping mall. Bill Ladya won the final event. Don La Joie finished second with Lou Funk Jr, third. Sean Donnelly was the Sportsman winner.

   Twenty five years ago in 1986, the Race of Champions was still at Pocono and it was the same story as in 1981 as George Kent took the win. Kent took the lead after Reggie Ruggiero pitted on lap 164 of the 250 lap contest. Geoff Bodine ended up in second spot and was followed by Jim Spencer, Ruggiero, Jan Leaty and Tony Siscone. In other weekend action, Stan Gregger won at Riverside over Bob Polverari and Dan Avery.

   Twenty years ago in 1991, the Race of Champions made its final appearance at Pocono Raceway. Donald "Satch" Worley, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino took the lead from Tom Baldwin with two laps to go and went on to take the win. Baldwin broke a valve and faded to fifth in the final run down. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino and Greg Sacks. Mike Stefanik finished sixth and wrapped up the tour championship. In other weekend action, Jerry Marquis got his seventh win at Monadnock and it was Jim Broderick taking the win at Waterford over Ted Christopher. In Winston Cup action, Harry Gant earned the name, "MR. September" as he made it three in a row in NASCAR's elite division at Dover. Gant also won the preliminary Busch Grandnational event. On a sad note, former driver, promoter and friend of many, George Pendergast, passed away after a bout with cancer.

   Fifteen years ago in 1996, Todd Ceravolo got his fourth win of the season at Waterford. Jim Broderick finished second with Don Fowler, third. Matt Kobyluck was the Late Model winner. Tom McCann won his seventh at Riverhead. Don Howe finished second and announced that he was retiring after 27 years of competition which saw 27 wins and three championships. Steve Park, who was at the top of his game in the Featherlite Modifieds got "THE CALL” from Dale Earnhardt Sr and announced that he would be driving a DEI entry in 1997 on the Busch Grandnational circuit of NASCAR. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Jeff Gordon took the win. Jim Spencer was fined $10 grand for trying to hit Wally Dallenbach along with Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty who were fined for threatening.

   Ten years ago in 2001, the country was still reeling from the World Trade Center tragedy. NASCAR cancelled the entire weekend schedule at the New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon. The Modified and Busch North events were cancelled and the Winston Cup event was rescheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. Before a light crowd the show went on at Thompson on Thursday night. Kerry Malone took the SK Modified win over Scott Foster, Ted Christopher, Bill Anderson and Jeff Malave. Eric Berndt won the SK Modified feature at Waterford, was disqualified, had it overturned. Ron Yuhas finished second with Mark LaJunesse, third. The Waterford drivers took up a collection for the World Trade Center victims, which resulted in over $10,000. On a sad note, Lou Funk Sr passed away at the age of 76 and CART Superstar Alex Zanardi lost both legs as a result of a crash in Germany.

   Five years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for a 100-mile event that was run on Friday. Forty-one cars were on hand for time trials. Showers forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and set the starting field based on car owner point standings. Mike Stefanik was given the pole starting position. Earlier before the rains came a practice session gave a preview of things to come. Todd Szegedy was the fastest as he toured the 1-mile oval to the tune of 128.398 MPH. Second fastest at 128.363 MPH was Tony Hirschman. Rounding out the top five by speed were Donny Lia, Eddie Flemke Jr. and Mike Stefanik.

   Because of the fact that John Blewett III chose to run for the track championship at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey he was forced to start 21st as he has only run a partial schedule on the tour. When he does compete in tour races he is fast, very fast. He left little doubt last Friday as he completed a clean sweep of both Whelen Modified Tour Series events at Loudon. At least this time he could celebrate. When he won the July event, he was on his way to New Jersey when he got the word that NASCAR, in its haste to complete the event under caution, had made a mistake and declared James Civali the winner. When Blewett took the checkered flag the field had been under green since lap 68 and there was no question who the winner actually was. He was flat out running! Jerry Marquis finished a close second but in the end couldn’t a pass by Blewett. Civali, who was still licking his wounds from July, finished a solid third ahead of Mike Stefanik and Todd Szegedy who rounded out the top five.

   The race was slowed by only two cautions for 11 laps. The first caution was for Doug Coby who came to a stop on the front stretch on lap 48. The second caution came on lap 61 when Reggie Ruggiero, Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld were collected in a wreck in turn four. Ruggerio got the worst of it and was done for the day. Twenty-one of the original 21 starters finished on the lead lap. As always, the Whelen Modified Tour Series event at Loudon was the best of the weekend. There were 17 official lead changes among 7 drivers. Szegedy led the most laps, 33, but it was Blewett who got the big check, $13,000 after he led only the final eight laps. Sixth through tenth were Ted Christopher, Eddie Flemke Jr., Zach Sylvester, Eric Beers and Tony Hirschman. Blewett’s younger brother Jimmy finished 11th.

   Blewett backed up his Loudon win with a convincing win at his home track, Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey, on Saturday night.

   The Thompson Speedway was forced to cancel their regular Thursday Night Thunder program when rain blanketed the area. With the season rapidly winding down only two more Thursday dates remain to fill out the schedule. The intensity of the point’s battles is lead by the Sunoco Modified division with a mere six points separating Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave. Not only is the Thompson championship the goal of both, but the NASCAR Division IV title is also a huge part of the equation. Tom Cravenho, Todd Ceravolo and Bert Marvin round out the top five in the point standings.

   The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway made the right call when they canceled Friday’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series racing card. With the forecast calling for intermittent rain throughout the entire day and evening, the speedway pulled the plug shortly before 9:00am.

   The Waterford Speedbowl closed out their regular Saturday night season. Tom Fox and Diego Monahan topped a slate of 12 different winners. The Speedbowl crowned two champions as well. Tim Jordan and Danny Field clinched the Late Model and Mini Stock championships respectively and Dennis Gada was all but assured of his sixth SK crown headed into the weekend’s Finale. Rescheduled rainouts resulted in the marathon racing session. In addition to Fox and Monahan, the win list included Allen Coates and Larry Goss in the Late Models; Greg Butler Jr. and Al Stone III in the Sportsman and Joe Godbout III and Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks. It was the first-even win for Butler and the first of the season for Stone. Dan Valentine of the Faith Church Ministries of New Milford scored a convincing win in the Faster Pastor race. Curtis D’Addario Sr., a nine-time Wild n’ Wacky Wednesday winner, added another X-Car feature Saturday night, edging Mark Caise at the checkered. Jordan, the first-ever rookie to win the Late Model title, did it the hard way with a couple of 15th place finishes, the second in Jay Lozyniak’s regular ride. The consistent Field scored a third and a second. Gada needed only to start Sunday’s 100-lap SK feature to capture his record-tying sixth crown following a fifth and second. Bob Potter currently holds the record. A seventh and a third put Joe Curioso III back into the Sportsman point lead but by a scant four points over Dwayne Dorr heading into the Finale.

   Fox grabbed the lead at the start and won the resumption of the SK-feature stopped after 12 laps on Sept.9. Gada made a determined outside bid following a restart with 16 laps left but drifted back to fifth at the checkered. Shawn Monahan ended up second and was followed by Chris Pasteryak and Rob Janovic. Diego Monahan held back Gada for most of the second half of the second SK race and claimed his third win of the season. Jeff Pearl, Chris Pasteryak and Mark Pane rounded out the top five.

   It was announced that long time public relations director Pete Zanardi would retire from his post at the shoreline oval at seasons end. Considered one of the best in the business as both a PR Man and a writer Zanardi has been a mentor to many of us in the writing game including yours truly. Zanardi’s efforts as well as those of Bill Roth have kept the Speedbowl afloat during the last few difficult years.

   In other weekend racing, Bentley Warren passed Chris Perley and Dave Mcknight to win the Bud Super Nationals at Oswego, TJ Potrzebowski won the 56th annual Race of Champions and Kevin Harvick beat out Tony Stewart in the Nextel Cup event at Loudon. Ted Christopher got a late start and an early finish. Scheduled to drive the Kirk Shelmerdine entry, Christopher started the race after seven laps were run as his spotter was stuck in an elevator. He finished dead last in 41st spot.

   Last year, 2010, Thursday night Thunder Racing at the Thompson Speedway continued to be some of the best competition to be seen as Danny Cates went from the outhouse to the penthouse in the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds at the high banked, lightning fast oval. Cates, who has been extremely fast and smooth all year had only one victory on the season going into the night's racing program. Cates powered his second win of the season despite having to start last in the 18 car starting field. Ted Christopher who has dominated the division with ten wins was never a factor as his night ended on the tail end of a wrecker. Christopher was all done by the third lap when John Catania hit the wall going into the third turn, drifted down, and hit Christopher’s car, severely damaging the right-side suspension.

   Following Cates and Woody Pitkat at the finish was Silk, Rocco and Preece. Christopher who currently leads Pitkat by 56 points finished 15th.

   In other action at Thompson, Larry Gelinas dominated in Super Late Models to score his fourth victory of the 2010 season. Spirits were riding high as Mike Scorzelli and Chad Baxter of scored career firsts in the Late Models and Mini Stocks respectively. Joe Coates was tops in the Limited Sportsman division while Brian Tagg wired the field for the TIS Modified victory.

   After a week off, the Stafford Speedway was back in action on Friday, September 10th with the Inaugural Shark Cycle 100. It was a banner night for Stafford's own Woody Pitkat, who bagged a double by winning both the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, and the 30-lap Late Model feature. The SK Modified® victory was the third of 2010 for Pitkat and the Late Model win was his second consecutive and seventh overall win of 2010. Other feature winners were Tommy Barrett, Jr., who scored his ninth win of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr., who won his second feature of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Andrew Hayes scored his third win of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

   In the SK Modified feature Ryan Preece finished second. Rounding out the top five was JeffMalave, Dan Avery and Josh Sylvester. Keith Rocco's 9th place finish was enough to clinch the 2010 Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified® track championship.

   In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Todd Ceravolo made it two in a row in SK Modified competition. Keith Rocco was second with Rob Janovic finishing third. Ron Yuhas and Doug Coby ran side-by-side to the checkered flag for fourth, with Yuhas taking that spot by a bumper.

   In other action at the Speedbowl, Vin Esposito won his second Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature on the year. Ed Puleo went pole to pole to win his fifth Street Stock race of 2010, while Mark Panaroni checkered the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race, his first of the season. Russ Stoehr won a 35-lap NEMA Midget memorial race and Jesse State of New Hyde Park, NY was the victor in the NEMA Lite event.

   The Modified Racing Series made its inaugural visit to the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night. Ted Christopher put the Joe Brady #00 in victory lane. Starting third, Christopher took the lead from Ron Silk on lap two and never looked back. It was Christopher's 110th win at Stafford. Silk finished second and was followed by Rowan Pennink, Jeff Malave and Chris Pasteryak. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Bryon Chew, Eric Goodale, Richard Savory and Bobby Santos III.

   Eighteen of the 28 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. There were 38 cars on hand for the inaugural event which appeared to be well received by fans and track management alike.

   Justin Bonsignore the leading rookie driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour enjoyed some home cooking Saturday night when he topped the 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature event at Riverhead Raceway posting the $1,425 victory. With a 5th place finish Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue sewed up the 2010 NASCAR Modified championship giving him two titles in the class with his first coming in 2004.

   Kevin Harvick passed Brad Keselowski for the lead with just over 50 laps to go Friday night and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race for his third victory of the season and 37th overall.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action Denny Hamlin scored a dominating win at the Richmond International Raceway. It came a week after he had the car to beat in Atlanta until an engine failure dropped him to a last-place finish, and the Richmond win pushed him into the points lead for the first time in his career. d.

   That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

Looking Back Archive


SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 16, 2011

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